Shutting it down and lawyering up.

For nearly a year, we’ve been telling you about a Greensboro-based non-profit called Balanced Nutrition which has involved Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, his wife Yolanda Hill, and several family members and close friends.  The stated purpose of Balanced Nutrition has been to pass on taxpayer funds from the NC Department of Health and Human Services to daycare centers as reimbursement for lunches provided to low-income attendees.

(If you’re behind on this story, here is a good primer to help you catch up.)

Over the last year, we found a number of concern-causing issues around Balanced Nutrition’s handling of tax dollars:

  • Incorrect / False information submitted to the IRS
  • (Apparently) Improperly applying for – and obtaining – paycheck protection (PPP) loans from the federal Small Business Administration
  • Sketchy accounting practices that appear to run afoul of Generally Accepted Accounting Practices
  • Failing to identify family members listed on company filings as “key employees”
  • Spending and hiring practices that appear to run afoul of DHHS regulations and requirements

Many a drive-by media type poo-pooed our work, suggesting there was “no story here.”  The lieutenant governor’s office and the Robinson campaign refused to comment on any of it.  Nevertheless, we kept pushing forward.

On Tuesday, clients of the Robinson family business – Balanced Nutrition of Greensboro – received this note from BN’s chief financial officer Yolanda Hill [aka “Mrs. Mark Robinson”]:


Shutting it all down because of a lack of time to devote to the business?   Just last week,  Yolanda Hill was on Facebook seeking tips on available commercial office space in Greensboro or High Point. That sounds like an intention to expand. She may not have been inquiring on behalf of Balanced Nutrition.  But IF she truly IS too busy to run Balanced Nutrition, how could she possibly have time to  get involved in another business?

Recent paperwork on Balanced Nutrition we received from NC DHHS indicated that Kimberly Cephas, Mark and Yolanda’s daughter, had been getting more involved in the business during the last year.  Mrs. Cephas’s name appears on a number of company filings associated with titles such as “Operations Manager” and “Purchasing Manager.”  She even signed documents on behalf of Balanced Nutrition.   From all appearances, it looked like Hill was preparing Cephas to take over the business upon Robinson’s ascendance to the governor’s office.  So, WHY shut it down?

Hill, according to Robinson’s 2022 memoir, ran Balanced Nutrition while he ran for lieutenant governor and has been running it nonstop during his four years as lieutenant governor.  During that time, the non-profit’s revenue grew exponentially.  Balanced Nutrition currently has more employees than it has ever had.  It should be less of a drag on Hill’s time.

From what we can tell, Balanced Nutrition has also been providing a bigger salary to Yolanda than what Mark has been making as lieutenant governor and what he would be making as governor.

Why shut it down, now? 

There also may be a problem with trying to bail out of the business by the end of April.  There is — as this document suggests — a pretty lengthy, detailed procedure for transitioning out of this kind of program.

Here we are – two days after Hill’s email was sent — and the Robinson campaign is forwarding inquiries about Balanced Nutrition to a Guilford County attorney. Why would you need a lawyer to explain to people that you’re shuttering your business so you can be more of a help to your gubernatorial candidate husband? I would think people would understand that.

To all of you Democrats who may be giggling over this — if this affair goes bad, it could very well taint Roy Cooper and Josh Stein.   Stein, as attorney general, had assigned a dedicated attorney to oversee the meal reimbursement program Balanced Nutrition has been part of.  Stein has been AG for eight years. Balanced Nutrition has been participating in the program for SEVEN.  If something  sketchy, hinky, etc. arises, there could be real questions about HOW the AG’s staff missed it.

The state Department of Health and Human Services is part of Roy Cooper‘s domain. NC DHHS has been in charge of overseeing sponsors like Balanced Nutrition and allocating money to them for transfer to the daycare centers.  If this does turn bad, it’s pretty easy to wonder HOW Roy and his team missed it all.